Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bill Evans - Half Moon Bay (1973)

Recorded: 1973
Original Release Date: August 25, 1998
Audio CD: October 13, 1998
Label: 1998 Milestone Remaster
Quality: flac + cue

Bill Evans must be acknowledged as one of the finest pianists in all of jazz. A cool, intellectual player, Evans adopted bop's sophisticated chording and united it with a unique, horn-like phrasing. On Half Moon Bay, Evans is captured live in California with one of his finest rhythm sections--Eddie Gomez on bass and Marty Morell on drums. Recorded in 1973, these previously unreleased performances are both evocative and introspective. Evans digs deep into his vast repertoire and turns in sparking renditions of classics like "Waltz for Debby," "Autumn Leaves," and even "Someday My Prince Will Come." Evans exceeds at these softer, melancholy ballads and is quite at home playing within the trio context. A must for any serious Bill Evans fan. --Mitch Myers

Yet more Bill Evans live dates continue to flood the landscape posthumously, but this one was recorded under most inviting and unusual conditions. The locale was Pete Douglas' Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, a second-floor, 250-seat rumpus room overlooking the Pacific near Half Moon Bay, CA, whose wood-paneled ambience and nine-foot Steinway D piano inspired some of the better live work from Evans during this period of his life. Again in his favored trio format, with bassist Eddie Gómez (who gets ample solo room) and drummer Marty Morell in totally simpatico communication, Evans gives himself opportunities to swing hard as well as traffic in his patented mode of harmonically complex introspection.

Included are an excellent take on "Waltz for Debby" and a couple of contemporary pop near-standards, "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" and "Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)," and the set peaks with a closing pair of elegantly swinging waltzes, "How My Heart Sings" and "Someday My Prince Will Come." The aging tape has dropouts, but the sound quality is quite acceptable in true stereo and superior to that of The Secret Sessions from this period.

"Half Moon Bay" is an excellent performance by the trio that recorded the superb "Tokyo Concert" earlier in the year. This is classic Bill Evans for this period. Gomez plays well, although at times he is a bit showy for my taste (I've always felt Evans' best performances were from when he had either LaFaro or Johnson as his bassist). No matter, still an excellent performance by one of the finest jazz pianists ever. ~ excellent 1973 performance ~ A Customer

Bill Evans (piano);
Eddie Gomez (bass);
Marty Morell (drums).

Bill Evans - Half Moon Bay Tracks:
01  Introductions
02  Waltz For Debby
03  Sareen Jurer
04  Very Early
05  Autumn Leaves
06  What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life
07  Quiet Now
08  Who Can I Turn To
09  Elsa
10  Someday My Prince Will Come